Research article

Prime lettings and residential development

Advice from our agents on these crucial markets

There has never been so much emphasis on green space, and the current dream rental home is a four-bedroom house with a garden.

But there has also been a shift in tenants’ requirements for a home’s interior layout, a new set of preferences driven by home working and a desire for more privacy during the day and in the evening. Families want a hang-out area for the children, and nooks and crannies where several people can sit and talk in peace.

There has long been a requirement for home offices in this segment. As a result, in some houses, the second landing on the staircase has been turned into an office area with a desk. But someone who is frequently on conference calls needs a room with a door. At the very top end of the market, some people want pools and home gyms.

If you are serious about renting your home, this is an excellent time

Izzy Birch Reynardson, Head of Super Prime Lettings

The hotspots in London’s rental market are Kensington and Notting Hill. Owners can secure fantastic rents because there are so few properties available. Recently, we had three tenants bidding for a property, a beautiful townhouse being let out by a family who were moving to the country.

This was not a permanent relocation, so the owners wanted to rent their home to a family who lived in a similar way to them. They wanted a custodian because the home may be a legacy property – bought for future generations – so must be well looked after. In such circumstances, I find it useful if the owner’s housekeeper and the tenant’s housekeeper can meet before the move and discuss matters such as how the house should be cleaned, so that marble floors and other surfaces are not damaged.

Despite the focus on houses and gardens, the flat market in Mayfair and Marylebone is making a return. Lock-up-and-leave flats with a concierge or live-in porter are sought-after. If tenants are regularly flying into London for the weekend, they want to be welcomed by someone who knows they are arriving.

The prime central London rental market used to be seasonal, but that pattern is altering, with the emergence of a new type of clientele coming from the burgeoning tech industry in London. If you are serious about renting your home, this is an excellent time. Constrained stock puts landlords in a strong position, but you have got to get a move on.

While the absence of overseas buyers has held back the recovery in prime London’s residential development market, activity is increasing. Buyers are returning to London’s golden postcodes from the Middle East and the United States, and there’s a real sense of pent-up demand.

Indeed, we could be at the point where if buyers delay, they could miss out. There has been an uptick in property values – which had been declining for the past six years – and, as experience shows, fans of London property love a good buy.

A great view is important – and can be a trigger to buy early into a development

Ed Lewis, Head of London Residential Development Sales

In terms of demand, having a great view is important – and can be a trigger to buy early into a development. This is exemplified by the popularity of Park Modern with its outlook over Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The scheme is expected to complete in 2022.

There is also plenty of traction for three-bedroom apartments. Like everyone else, these buyers want more indoor and outdoor space – and to be close to a park.

While we have certainly had off-plan sales where buyers have not viewed the site in person, this tends to be for property in the market up to £1 million. In the case of a £5 million-plus home, buyers want to look before they strike a deal.

We are also noting that more attention is being paid to the level of service charges at developments. I would argue that developers need to look at the services they are charging for, including the level of staff employed at a building.

Above all though, London remains hugely attractive. The capital has everything: transparency in financial and legal dealings, architecture, education, culture and restaurants. It’s evolving too. For example, the decision to allow bars and restaurants to set up outdoor tables as lockdown restrictions ended gave the city a new and exciting vibe.


For more insights into prime central London’s residential market, please visit our Residential Hub

Read the articles within In Focus: Prime Central London – Autumn 2021 below

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